In our weekly recap on Sunday, we as editors look back at the past seven days. We do this at the suggestion of our cartoonist Albert-Jan Rasker. He chooses a subject, makes a drawing, and we take it from there. What were we talking about in the newsroom? What other topics caught our eye? How do we actually work at Innovation Origins? Everything can come by. If you also want this newsletter straight to your inbox every Sunday morning, just subscribe here.
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The big pitfall for us at Innovation Origins is that our hopes and enthusiasm run away with us. For our work, we mainly speak to people who are working on the solutions to the big issues of our time. The energy transition, climate change, food safety, healthcare, and digitalization: these are all themes that ask – no, beg – for Big Solutions. And when we speak to yet another startup or researcher who claims to be able to take care of that, they have our attention. Then it’s up to us to bring nuance and realism to the conversation. Preferably without immediately throwing doubts or disbelief at everything we are presented with.
This is entirely the case with the subject that our cartoonist brought up this time (and for which he made the above cartoon). The article that caught his eye is about a newly discovered molecule that could prevent tumors from metastasizing. In itself, of course, that’s great news, but the important nuance is that the fundamental research is still in a pre-clinical phase. In other words, it has not yet been tested in humans. Will that happen? Probably yes, says one of the researchers. But, “That will take many years, it could come to nothing, and someone has to be willing to take that financial risk.”
We don’t want to take away anyone’s hopes, but it is important to show not only the opportunities but also the obstacles. After all, only in this way will you, the reader, get a good picture of our future. And that is exactly what we want to convey with our main claim: ‘Your Sneak Preview of the Future‘.
Obviously, this applies to all our productions. Below is a selection from the dozens of new articles published last week. Or go directly to our complete overview of the most recent stories here.
The Netherlands was the last of the 27 EU member states to submit plans for a contribution from the European Corona Recovery Fund. Energy from wind and hydrogen should make the country sustainable. “Nice plans,” says Gerard van Bussel, emeritus professor of wind energy at TU Delft. “But 11 gigawatts of additional wind energy by 2030 is simply not going to happen.” Read the 27th part of our Decarbonizing Europe series here.
Booking an international train trip is highly complicated, even within Europe. Schedules are inscrutable, connections don’t match up, and the pricing structure is murky. Austrian Elias Bohun found this out through trial and error. If the trip goes beyond the neighboring country, for example, it cannot be booked in advance from his country. Seeing a market need in this, he founded the train travel agency Traivelling with his father. In this episode of start-up of the day, Bohun talks about his project.
H2arvester’s mobile solar panels can give farmland a dual function and make farms self-sufficient when it comes to energy. Not only vegetables or grain can then be harvested on the same land, but also hydrogen. In two projects, H2arvester is already showing that it can be done.
We also visited the Bulgarian startup Nanoacts last week. There they build nanogenerators that allow devices to be used independently of external energy sources. For example, these nanogenerators can generate power as soon as you mount them on your hands and then move your fingers. Nanoacts has a version for individuals and one for the industry.
About Hope and Nuance
PS: Talking about hope and nuance: also read this analysis by Marc Jacobson (Stanford University). He has calculated how the world can become 100% CO2 neutral in 2030 – or, if more time is needed, in 2050. It will require a huge pile of money, but the return on investment will be swift. Enjoy your Sunday!